Conducting virtual performance review meetings

Five steps to keep cadence and pace of your performance management initiatives


August 2020


The article was originally authored by Christian Frantz Hansen.

In times of turbulence, it is essential that you keep cadence and pace of your performance management initiatives to limit the effects of the turmoil on your performance management procedures. Going virtual will help you in this process, and we propose five steps for you to take to make the most of your virtual performance review meetings.

Running a tight ship is a critical part of making it through rough seas. Thus, to bring your organisation through the turbulent times, it is essential that you limit the effects on performance management procedures. If the usual performance reviews are halted, your organisation risks losing track of where you are headed – with potential catastrophic consequences as a result.

Going virtual helps you keep cadence and pace of performance management initiatives

A simple yet effective way to keep the cadence and pace of your organisation’s performance management initiatives is to conduct virtual performance review meetings. This, however, necessitates that your performance management organisation knows how to leverage virtual tools and facilitation techniques.

“Whether driven by the current COVID-19 lockdown, geographical distance or other barriers, performance review meetings can easily be conducted virtually.”

To make the most of a virtual performance review meeting, we suggest that you work your way through the five steps below.

Step 1: Purpose

It is critical that you convey a simple and intuitive purpose of the meeting in order to ensure alignment and common ground among the participants. You should make sure that everybody attending the virtual performance review knows and understands the intent/objective. In a virtual meeting, it can be difficult to dissect people’s mannerisms and body language, and you must therefore make your message even clearer than usual.

To make the purpose of the virtual review meeting clear, you can ask yourself:

  • Is this an incident-based performance review or a part of the natural performance review cycle?
  • What are the expected deliverables to come out of the performance review?
  • What critical business decisions are expected to be made as part of the performance review?
Step 2: Participants

It is always important to consider which participants to include in your meetings to ensure the necessary competences, decision authority and operational insight.

At a performance review meeting, the choice of participants is particularly important. Here, you should always include employees who have the authority and ability to act on the performance insights. Because if a performance review does not lead to any action, it creates very little value.

To choose which participants to include in your performance review meeting, you can ask yourself:

  • Who do I need in order to make relevant decisions and initiative action s based on the performance review?
  • Do any of the participants need assistance to participate virtually?
  • Can I expect any resistance due to the virtual nature of the meeting?
Step 3: Virtual tool

To create the best virtual environment, it is important that you recognise the pros and cons of different virtual communication tools, i.e. that Microsoft Teams is good for smalls groups, Skype is good for medium-sized groups, and Zoom is preferable for larger groups. It’s important that you select the right communication tool that supports the discussions, collaboration and decision-making you wish to create at your performance review.

When looking into different virtual tools, you can ask yourself:

  • How are we able to share our performance measures, performance dashboards etc. virtually?
  • How do we leverage the features of the virtual tool to support discussions about the performance?
Step 4: Format

If you want to ensure engagement and active participation in a virtual setup, it is important that you involve your participants regularly through deliberately designed exercises and microinvolvements.
Thus, you must make sure that your participants are actively involved much more frequently in a virtual meeting than is needed in physical meetings. You most effectively achieve a high level of involvement by leveraging features such as virtual whiteboards, polls, quizzes and virtual breakout rooms.

When you prepare the format of your virtual meeting, you can ask yourself:

  • How can I involve the participants by letting them work with the performance insights?
  • How do I make sure that everyone is nudged to participate actively?
  • Do I need breakout sessions for smaller groups to focus on various parts of our performance metrics?
Step 5: Roles

In virtual meetings, you run the risk of what is called the diffusion of responsibility. This is a sociopsychological phenomenon whereby everyone assumes that someone else will take responsibility for action. Being distanced from each other, people unfortunately tend to hide behind their cameras and take less responsibility for action.

As a virtual facilitator, you must therefore outline clear roles for all participants. In this way, you make sure that everyone feels obligated to take responsibility for acting on the performance insights in the review meeting.

When outlining clear roles for all virtual participants, you can ask yourself:

  1. Who is responsible and accountable for each performance measure to be reviewed?
  2. Who has the authority to initiate mitigating actions to counter negative performance?
  3. Who is responsible for executing on the decisions made throughout the performance review?

Preparation is key!

Benjamin Franklin once said: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” And from experience, we know that proper preparation for a virtual meeting requires twice the time compared to what is needed for a traditional physical meeting. Thus, you must make sure that you set aside the extra time for preparation before going virtual with your performance review meetings.

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